Royal Blood have announced the 8th September release of their fourth album Back To The Water Below and have revealed a new headline tour set for October, including shows at Manchester’s O2 Apollo and London’s Eventim Apollo.
From the very beginning, Royal Blood’s story has been one of two life-long friends whose shared passion and dedication for writing and performing has led them on a remarkable adventure together – a story that has yet to be repeated, and is a feat as rare as it is remarkable. Long before Royal Blood were even formed, bass-man Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher spent years together in various bands playing to half empty bars around Brighton – and only then did they suddenly become a decade-in-the-making overnight success story. One day they were plotting how to recoup the meagre £300 they had spent on their first recording, but within a year they were at the top of UK album charts, storming Glastonbury Festival and winning the BRIT Award for Best British Group.
Throughout, their story has been one of independence. Relying on their friendship and intuitive musicianship to guide them through as they were catapulted into arenas. Favouring working independently away from prying eyes rather than enlisting the help of the latest big name co-writer. Their victories have come from hard work, prodigious songwriting, fierce performances and a smidgeon of good fortune. That spirit of independence continues into Back To The Water Below, which saw them self-produce an entire album for the very first time. It was a process which cancelled out the noise of any external influences, while also allowing them the convenience to write at their own studio in Brighton whenever inspiration struck.
They discovered that the best ideas were the result of following their instincts, their unspoken, subconscious connection honed over the course of 15 years playing music together. Just as importantly, they cast aside any preconceptions of what Royal Blood should be. They allowed themselves the freedom to embrace other ideas: at times being guided by melodies rather than riffs and rhythms, and in others deploying whatever instrumentation they felt best complemented the songs. If in doubt, they returned to a core belief: that the sound of Royal Blood isn’t defined by genre or the instruments that they play, but by the unique chemistry forged by the two friends.
But as the single Mountains At Midnight proves, sometimes the result was a fresh take on the old school Royal Blood prototype – albeit with a supercharged rush. As we’ve come to expect, Mike Kerr inventively layers a heavyweight wall-of-sound solely with his bass, while Ben Thatcher’s rhythms simultaneously swing with a spacious groove while pummelling us into submission. Meanwhile, Kerr’s lyrics complement the song’s ominous, foreboding ambiance with vehement menace: “I’m a ticking timebomb hooligan come to light your fuse / 24-carat thug in a velvet glove.”
Check out the video for Mountains At Midnight below:
Ben Thatcher says, “I think this record was about letting the ideas take us where they needed to go. If there was a song that was calling us to do something that wasn’t typically what we’re known for, that’s where we’re going to go. The songs are in charge and if that means having a record that’s quite varied that’s what we’re going to go for, rather than trying to shoehorn everything into the same world. As a result, we’ve made a record that’s a bit of a rollercoaster. It’s everything we could do.”
Reflecting upon their journey so far, Mike Kerr adds, “No-one saw the years of us playing in loads of bands to no-one, that all gets swept under the carpet because the other story is magical and much more wondrous. Luck is where passion meets opportunity. We got our golden ticket and walked out victorious. We were in the right place at the right time, and we have to remember to give ourselves the credit that we didn’t get into this position by winning a quiz show, we put in a serious amount of work. It’s taken us four albums to realise this isn’t luck, we’re good and we’re committed to this.”
Royal Blood will storm through the summer festival circuit this year, hitting up BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glastonbury Festival, TRNSMT, Truck Festival, Kendal Calling and Y Not Festival; alongside a support slot with the mighty Muse, including a stop at the Milton Keynes Bowl!
UK & Ireland 2023 Headline Tour:
20th – O2 Apollo, Manchester
22nd – Stockton Globe, Stockton-on-tees
24th – Eventim Apollo, London
25th – Liverpool Uni Mountford Hall, Liverpool
26th – The Halls, Wolverhampton
27th – Guildhall, Portsmouth
29th – The Telegraph Building, Belfast
30th – 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Live photography of Royal Blood by Kalpesh Patel